Spider-man 2 Review

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Insomniac’s Marvel’s Spider-man was a revelation for the web crawler in the video game space. Miles Morales was a great campaign, but that city and its open world design began to wear out its welcome quickly. Marvel’s Spider-man 2 had big shoes to fill. I wasn’t concerned about the story, set pieces, or combat, but I had concerns for the open world. They needed to do more than just fill it up with even more collectibles or things to chase down. 

From a pessimistic view, they did just add more things to collect, more things to chase down, and more sites to clear out. Adding gliding as an additional traversal element was a significant and enjoyable spice to the open world mix, but if I were expecting more interesting activity types to tackle in the open world, I would have been very disappointed. They added different activities, but the repetition throughout the different districts of New York City pulverized any semblance of novelty quick.

Aesthetically, the city evolved as I progressed through the main story line. The epic battle with Sandman left its mark on the story early on with additional visible transformations to the city occurring towards the end. I expected prettier buildings and lighting to reflect the time of day transitions, but I didn’t expect the city to be affected by the story at such a scale. The unfortunate side effect to these wide reaching alterations was the lack of urgency reflected by the citizens of the city. They say nothing stops New Yorkers from getting to where they need to go, but I think Marvel’s Spider-man 2’s citizens took it too far by their non-reactions to an epic brawl involving a couple of Spider-men and a crowd of goo monsters. 

I was a big fan of how Insomniac enabled seamless transitions between Miles Morales and Peter Parker. Sometimes I transition in mid-swing and other times, the other Spider-man was just idling playing with their Spider-robot or drinking a coffee. It gave both Spider-men independent and occasionally integrated lives. Each Spider-man had their time with the main story missions, but I was glad to see each of them have their own meaty side missions to follow through with. 

One of the side missions called back to the DLC content from Marvel’s Spider-man which I overlooked and forgotten existed. I had to dig up some info on the events of those DLC chapters which made me realize that the DLC content was actually quite important in the grand scheme of things.

The set pieces were bigger than ever with increased scale and dynamism afforded by technical enhancements since the 2018 game. The rapid transitions into completely different spaces were reminiscent of Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart, for example. 

New abilities and gadgets refreshed the combat a bit, but it was familiar for anyone who’ve played the previous games. The symbiote abilities were an attempt to catch Peter Parker up to Miles Morales’ flashy venom powers, however, I found Miles Morales more entertaining to play as. His ability to instantly go invisible and chaotic look of his electric powers made for more frenetic and exciting fights. 

Further explorations into the personal lives of both Spider-men made created earned tension points in the story. I really felt the divide in responsibilities between the two lives that each of them lead. Their closest loved ones knowing the double lives they lead didn’t make things easier for them. I don’t know if the Mary Jane stealth sections needed to make their return, but what else can one do to give supporting characters more interactive game time?

Exploring the classic Spidey villains as humans who broke badly and had their own reclamation arcs was also something I didn’t expect from a video game. Second chances and how people dealt with them the prevailing theme throughout the game and now more than ever, we need to be mindful of that. Reformation of criminals is a complex topic to cover in daily life let alone in a video game, but I felt Insomniac Games did a great job.

Marvel’s Spider-man spawned story threads leading towards the this game, Spider-man 2 also laid out foundational elements and hints for even more Spider-man related goodies in the future. After wrapping up the game, I couldn’t help but look forward towards the future of this franchise. I initially ignored them, but I just had figure out when the next Spidey hit was going to land. According to that awful ransomware attack, Insomniac Games has a Venom game planned for 2025 and Spider-man 3 in 2028. Very long waits, but I’m sure it will be worth it. 

Verdict:
I liked it

Ratings Guide

LTTP: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart [PS5]

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Insomniac Games have made a lot of Ratchet & Clank games. I was introduced to the franchise on the PlayStation 3 with Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. I followed up with Quest for Booty and then the excellent A Crack in Time. I skipped the rest of the PlayStation 3 entries before checking out the remake, Ratchet & Clank on PlayStation 4. That brings us to Rift Apart which I kept my eye on since its release in 2021.

A lot has happened to Insomniac Games since their 2016 remake; their excellent Spider-man and its follow-up, Miles Morales, propelled them to new heights of popularity and recognition. I was curious what lessons they learned from their time with Spider-man and how it impacted their staple franchise, Ratchet & Clank. 

Evidently, its impact was not as transformative as I hoped. For better and worse, this felt like a Ratchet & Clank game. I am certain their were significant playability improvements from their 2016 game that I forgot about, but in my mind, this still feels like Tools of Destruction to me. Combat feels slightly disconnected with no real punch behind shots; no amount of haptic feedback or DualSense trigger tricks made these larger than life weapons feel powerful. The melee combat felt like it always did; flat and nothing like landing the punches in their Spider-man games.

The Ratchet & Clank games were always known for the inventive arsenal, but Rift Apart felt lackluster in that department. Each of the weapons had neat DualSense trigger modes, but those gimmicks quickly wore off and left with what I can only describe as the standard weapon archetypes. 

Multi-dimensional hijinks is all the rage these days, so it was fitting to see it take video game form. Aside from the ray tracing, the big claim to fame for Ratchet & Clank was how quickly we were able to transition from one world to another. It was impressive on a technical level, but when the rapid transitions were just part of a larger rail grinding set piece, I couldn’t help but view it as elaborate sky box changes. It 100% wasn’t the case, but it felt like that. I was actually far more impressed with how quickly I loaded into each level.

The story seemingly took advantage of the fact that you may have watched a movie or two about multiverses because it handled the meeting of Ratchet and Rivet quite clumsily and quick. It felt like they wanted to get on with the game and just have you play through the game with the two of them as quickly as possible. Functionally they behaved like reskins of one another with weapons and ability progress magically transferring between the two of them. Personality and story wise? It felt like they didn’t know how to make Ratchet’s contributions meaningful. Rivet had the benefit of origin story and exploration of their home world and dimension, but Ratchet felt like a bit of an afterthought.

Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart didn’t reach the heights of A Crack in Time, but that’s alright. It’s a solid game for newcomers and like all the previous releases, one of the more visually accomplished titles of their generation. It is a looker, but as a long time fan, I was hoping for a bit more than just the discovery of another Lombax from another dimension.

Verdict:
It was okay

Ratings Guide

LTTP: Sunset Overdrive

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LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.

I flip flopped on Sunset Overdrive prior to its release. I groaned at their E3 2014 trailer but then saw past the attitude laden douche and pre-ordered it during FutureShop’s E3 promotion. But as launch day approached, I cold feet and returned it. A couple of months later, as Boxing Day 2014 was happening, I saw it for $25 and couldn’t refuse.

I played Sunset Overdrive as a spunky Asian lady because I wanted to distance myself from the marketing. To my surprise, it worked out. She was actually a likeable character. I gave her an orange, yellow and red themed outfit and even though I unlocked additional wardrobe options, I kept up with theme and it eventually grew to define Sunset Overdrive’s heroine. If they make another game, I hope to continue her adventures.

If Infamous was a serious spin on an original superhero game, then Sunset Overdrive was the goofy take. I’m not a Deadpool expert but the tone of Sunset Overdrive reminded me of Marvel’s fourth wall breaking anti-hero. The protagonist often recognized she was in a video game. The references ranged from subtle knocking back of the third person camera to her speaking with the tutorial’s narrator. I found it endearing albeit cheeky as well.

Acknowledging that this was a video game and not a “video game pretending to be something else” gave Insomniac carte blanche on their hero’s abilities. She was able to endlessly grind on powerlines, building ledges and other similar surfaces. She was also given the ability to bounce ludicrously high off certain objects, wall run to her heart’s content, air dash and slide across water. It was easily the best traversal options introduced into an Insomniac game but I would go further and say it was the best traversal of any open world game.

 

I didn’t hit the ground running though. It took me a half hour or so to I acclimatize to the mechanics but once I unlocked all the options: everything clicked. I thoroughly enjoyed getting around the city and collected all the junk that was strewn throughout. I haven’t been this impressed by a game’s traversal mechanics since the original Infamous.

Stringing together the different traversal moves kept me off the ground. There were survivability benefits for being up high but being in constant motion was more important. I was able to dodge and survive huge swathes of mutants when I was moving about. Insomniac’s effort to distance itself from modern military shooters was in full effect but what made this game distinctly Insomniac were the array of weapons at my disposal. Creative weapons shooting fireworks, exploding stuffed animals and the summoning of tornadoes and lightning strikes were distinctly Insomniac. I’ve seen variations of these weapons throughout the years but I still enjoyed the whimsical spins Insomniac bestowed on these otherwise normal cast of weapons.

I wasn’t a fan of the upgrade system or the surrounding song and dance that I had to perform to unlock more upgrades. Usage based leveling I can accept but they added an additional layer to the mix that I didn’t care for. I dreaded having to navigate the cluttered and clunky menus. I dreaded having to defend another Overcharge vat by playing another solo horde mode mission. The traps weren’t fun to use because I never get to see them in action since I’m scurrying between different attack points and not paying attention to the different traps that I’ve deployed. By the end, I had more success using my own deployable weapons.

Binding the chaos and movement was a style meter. The more traversal moves and kills that I strung together, the more style points I received. More style equated to added attack powers but it also added music. If I wasn’t playing stylishly, Sunset Overdrive was aurally vapid. I liked the idea behind it but I wished the baseline wasn’t silence — maybe something low key — but not silence.

I was wowed by the boss battles in Sunset Overdrive. Open world titles that take advantage of the fact that they’re in large sprawling spaces are aces in my book. Boss fights can be more than bouts in restricted areas. It was refreshing to see that I was asked to employ my traversal skill sets and navigate a sizeable chunk of the city while combatting a giant angry dragon.

I don’t know why Insomniac decided to use energy drinks as their source of mutation. I don’t know why they decided to be so “in your face” with the game’s marketing. I am certain that they did it all to be unique and while some of Sunset Overdrive may have fallen flat there was a lot to it that I enjoyed as well. It’s certainly one of the highlight titles in Insomniac Games’ history though.

Verdict:
I like it

Ratings Guide

Impressions on the first actual look at Sunset Overdrive

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I don’t often label things for “trying too hard”. Most of the time I see some potential or take the over-the-top attitude with an ironic twist. I couldn’t do the same for Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive’s initial gameplay reveal. It stunk of “trying too hard”.

I love the look of the environments and the weapons but I am disappointed by the generic flesh colored enemies. I’m also not a fan of the main character’s look.

I haven’t read the Edge Magazine blowout yet but based on what they’ve show in that video, I’m reminded of Dead Rising, inFamous and a healthy dose of Ratchet & Clank charisma. That’s quite the mix and if it weren’t for their portrayal of game’s systems and the generic enemies, I’d be onboard. Now, I’m very cautious and that’s not a good sign for a new IP in my experience.

It’s been a long time since I played an Insomniac developed game. The last game I played was the fantastic Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time. I wasn’t too keen on playing Resistance 3 and subsequent Ratchet & Clank efforts appeared to be lacklustre. Then there was Fuse which was received with a collective yawn. I hope Sunset Overdrive propels Insomniac back into the limelight; it’s been long overdue.

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